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July/August 2013

July/August 2013

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Taking Stock — Information for Any Season

The potatoes have been planted, and in some circumstances the potatoes have been planted again following an overabundance of rainfall. Now you let Mother Nature do whatever she feels like doing for 2013 and deal with it. You take the good weather when it comes and you take preventative measures when it doesn’t. It’s been the farmer’s plight since time immemorial and will be thus forever more. If you hope for the best and anticipate the worst, you’ll never be disappointed. This month’s profile by David Fairbourn is a digression from the norm. Instead of a farmer, we’re featuring Rick Kantner, director of sales and marketing for Alsum Farms & Produce. You have to sell them after you grow them and Rick has some sharp insights how to better market and brand the potato. Along with the article there’s a video of Rick discussing one…  » Read more
Spud Seller

Spud Seller

The United States Potato Board (USPB) is comprised of many talented board members with varied backgrounds and roles within the potato industry. Rick Kantner has served Alsum Farms and Produce as director of sales and marketing over the past four years, and is a valuable asset, representing Wisconsin and the U.S. potato industry on the USPB. Kantner first entered the produce business in 1987, when he worked for McCormick Spices, dealing with niche items like Gilroy garlic and fresh herbs. He later served as Chiquita Fresh Express vice president of foodservice, over salads, fruits and, of course, bananas. Just prior to his potato industry initiation, he worked for Prima Bella Produce, a grower and shipper of sweet corn, specializing in bulk and value-added packaged corn products. “I grew up in farm country in southern New Jersey,” Kantner said. “There was corn, blueberries, strawberries and tomatoes…  » Read more

Just Tell us the Rules so we can Get Back to Work

I admit it: writing monthly columns for the potato trade publications is a challenge. While no one who’s ever met me can claim I suffer from a loss for words, writing about the ever-changing national public policy landscape a month before the column is published feels a lot like looking into a crystal ball. But as I sit here in mid-June contemplating a column for the July/August publication of Spudman, I decided to go out on a limb and make three bold predictions about what will come to pass in our nation’s capital over the next few weeks. One: The 2013 Farm Bill will be passed by the House, conferenced with the previously passed Senate bill, and sent to the president for his signature … or it won’t. Two: Immigration reform will pass both chambers of Congress and become the new law of the land…  » Read more
Clean Investment

Clean Investment

Potato farmers could easily envy the winemaker. It must be wonderful to make a product that gets better with age. Spuds are as good at harvest as they’re ever going to be. The same is true of other fresh vegetables of course, but potatoes are often stored for months. Growers can only hope that the crop will maintain its quality until marketed. A properly functioning storage building can help growers achieve that goal. Now is the time to get storages in shape. “The most important thing is to have it clean and ready to go,” said Nora Olsen, Extension potato specialist with the University of Idaho. As a first step, producers should remove all soil and debris from potato handling equipment and all interior storage surfaces that will come into contact with tubers, Olsen says. A good pressure washing with some type of detergent is…  » Read more
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